Small is beautiful, local’s where it’s at and a whiff of the underground is the cherry on top. At least that’s what the distinctly unlocal Ford Motor Co may have been thinking when it came up with its pop-up Fiesta Lounge concept, currently happening in the vacant retail space at 1823 Fourth Street.

Opened on September 29, and running until October 10, the Fiesta Lounge is not a car showroom, nor even an attempt to sell cars, says Meryl Meyer from TAOW Productions which is orchestrating a five-city Fiesta Lounge tour. Instead, it’s a way for Ford to create a local experience as an alternative to spending large amounts of money on a commercial, she says.

To underscore its commitment to the notion of locality, independent local businesses have been brought into the fold: on the walls of the large, concrete-floored space, along with black and white graphics by in-house Ford artist Gage Hamilton, are groupings of photos of local shopkeepers and business owners.

The space also plays host to trendy apparel and products from Berkeley businesses Guerilla Café, Convert, Evarize, 510 Skateboarding and Bows & Arrows.

A retro photo booth in the center of the store lets customers snap pictures of themselves goofing around next to the Lounge’s two gleaming cars; and there are free Jones Sodas with customized labels for the taking.

Part of the goal, says Meyer, is to showcase a smaller car than many Americans are used to, and create an atmosphere that might help people imagine it fitting into their daily lives. The Fiesta has been a top-selling car in Europe for years, she  adds.

Oh, and if you actually want to buy a car? The Lounge staff will refer you to the local Ford dealer. This place is all about the experience, not so much the transaction.

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...